Dates: 1945-1971 [Vancouver] 1972-1979 [Sardis, BC]
Location: 4316 Fraser Street, Vancouver, B.C.; 2nd location: 2910 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.
People: David Lambert, -d.1985. Retired Canadian soldier, member of the British Ceramic Society, established the first commercial production pottery in Vancouver, BC, designer of kilns, considered the ‘god-father’ of BC pottery industry, part-time teacher at Vancouver Art School, one of the originators of the BC Potters Guild. Married to potter Elfrida Vivien Marlon-Lambert, (1918-2015).
The Beginning: Lambert Potteries Ltd. began by producing similar items to pottery found in European countries. Lambert felt this needed to change; he was “in a new country doing a new thing in that country.” At the time, there was no established or indigenous BC ceramics or pottery industry – First Nations Coastal peoples did not make pottery; rather they used natural elements such as cedar bark for utilitarian and ritual wares – and only a few amateur BC potters used local clay as it was too expensive to import from Medicine Hat, AB and Saskatchewan. David Lambert realized the need to create pottery that represented BC’s coastal culture – he began to create “something that would be new and yet old at the same time”, pottery that represented the regional system, something that could be recognized as “truly pertaining to the country in which we live.” He incorporated West Coast first people’s designs used on everyday objects onto pottery and created WEST COAST INDIAN DESIGNS ON HAND MADE POTTERY.
NOTE: Elfrieda Lambert made some mugs for the Charles Laughton Theatre, run by the Chilliwack Players Guild in the 1960’s (info from Richard Hollins)
1945-1960: china clay from Giscombe Rapids, Fort George, BC; deposits of red clay from clay pits in the Fraser Valley; iron-bearing earths from local deposits, traditional sources for ceramics-grade clay
Varied – a hybrid of industry and handicraft: pottery thrown on a potter’s wheel, jiggered on a jigger (a type of mould-making process), hand pressed into shapes, hand painted designs by Lambert and employees, fired, glazed, re-fired, cooled.
Plates – 7”, 9”, 12”
Bowls – small, multi-use, thrown bowls, egg-cups
Cream & sugar sets
Jugs – beverage
Mugs – wheel thrown beakers, coffee mugs, steins
West Coast Indian Designs were inspired by West Coast First Nations images.
Lambert found that the best results came about if the pottery shape was formed to the design rather than the design modified for the shape. Design names from Lambert’s The Story of West Coast Designs:
Spindle Whorl design [Salish]
- Bear Crest [Tsimshian]
- Beaver [Haida]
- Cannibal Bird no.1 [Haida]
- Frog [Haida]
- Grizzly Head [Tlingit]
- Growing Nose Mask [Kwakiutl]
- Housk’ana, the Fisherman [Haida]
- Killer Whale [Haida]
- Killer Whale, Big Fin [Haida]
- Mosquito [Haida]
- Hooyah, the Raven [Ancient Haida]
- Raven [Kwakiutl]
- Raven Two-Winged [Unknown tribe]
- Raven as Thunderbird [Unknown tribe]
- Beaver [Tattoo mark, Haida]
- Thunderbird & Killer Whale [Haida]
- Ancient Thunderbird [Unknown tribe]
- Ancient Killer Whale [Unknown tribe]
- Ancient Sea-lion [Unknown]
- Dog Fish, Salmon [Tsimshian]
- Northern Killer Whale [Haida]
- Southern Killer Whale [Haida]
- Eagle [general use]
- Bear [Dance Mask, Kwakiutl]
- Sword Whale [Haida]
- Bear [Dance design, Hoorts]
- Eagle [Dance design]
- Bear [Totem, Haida]
- Dragonfly [Haida]
- Thunderbird [Carving design, Haida]
- Raven inside Killer Whale [Carving design, unknown]
- Bear [Dance design]
- Flicker (bird) [Haida]
- Owl [Dance mask]
- Shaman’s Mask
- Many Figured Bear design
- Dragonfly [Simple tattoo]
- Thunderbird [Bella Bella?]
- Sea-wolf [Haida]
Designs not mentioned in D. Lambert’s published pamphlet, The Story of West Coast Designs: on Hand-made Pottery with 40 Authentic Stories and Myths of the Coast People  – see Research page, Additional Resources
- Little Stick Brewing Dance,1969
- #38 Lightning Snake, 1972
- #44 Man in the Moon, 1972
- Little Stick Hunts Belch the Bison David Lambert Sardis B.C. 1972 Canada
- Little Stick Paternity Dance David Lambert 1978 Sardis B.C. Canada
- Little Sticky Fertility Dance David Lambert 1967 [Comments]
- Little Bear “David/65”; [imprinted] Lambert Potteries Ltd. Handpainted Vancouver, B.C.
These design numbers and names were supplied by collectors [comments] and based on pieces in their collections:
- #38 Sisiutl Dragon [marked #38 Lightning Snake]
- #39 Thunderbird
- #40 Sea Wolf
- #45 Skookum
Information taken from David Lambert’s pamphlet, The Story of West Coast Designs and Rachelle Chinnery’s article, “Significant Material: Ceramics of British Columbia 1945-1960”.
Check out Lambert Potteries Ltd. – Revisited.
Additional information can be found here.
Some photos used with permission by Rhode Island Internet Consignment & Sales
Very informative. I remember them well, I sold Kla-How-Ya cards to some of the same stores.
When “Images Stone B.C. ” was at the Vancouver Planetarium I went to see it and it became a life of learning about Native Culture.
There is much flack about people coping Native Art, but for me it was the start to the real story.
P.S. A few years ago I had a Native Elder come and visit, I did not know here well,mother of a friend of mine ~
I greeted her with Kla How Ya, she started to cry, I said I’m sorry. No thats O.K. My mother would say that, and I haven’t heard it for many years.
Fantastic memories, Keith. Thank you for sharing them with us.
A personal memory of David & Elfrida Lambert at Ryder Lake. From R. Fisher (Hunn) of Lancaster UK —
I lived in a small cabin with my husband Richard on RR#4 just near the bend in the road where it ascended to a top road. In those days, 1974-75, the road was not paved. At the bend was the drive into the property belonging to our neighbours, Elfrida and David. They gave us unpasteurized milk from a cow (or goat) and David gave me a piece of his work, a small serving dish, pale yellow with a simple design in green and black, an Indigenous people’s design. I have cherished it over the years.
I came across your site as a result of researching the area and reminiscing those days.
I remember the very large propane cylinders lined up in the yards, all the empties. David seemed to make a new kiln each time a cylinder became empty. And I remember Elfrida saying the many boxes in the hall and in fact everywhere were still in their places where originally put down on the day they moved in years previously. There was a strong sense of ‘artists’ live here. My husband was a writer so all of us got on well. We stayed in the cabin only one year. Our landlady was the neighbour the other side – about half km away. She was called Ruby. It was sparsely populated.
Rose would appreciate any information regarding Ryder Lake and/or any photos of the area. She would love to ask about the area around Ryder Lake, for example what is RR#4 now called.
Thank you Rose & Richard for the memory.
Thank you for providing such a heartwarming story. I found killer whale #9 coffee mug thrifting. A wonderful piece of art from our west coast!
I so appreciate comments like these. Thank you so much!
Is there a way I can send Lambert Potteries pics to you without reducing the file sizes ? — I have some pics of early Lamberts that I am sure a lot of collectors may not have seen — cheers, Gerry
Gerry, I will email you directly. You can then send me the photos via email and I’ll get them uploaded.
Hello, I am a long time Lambert collector with over 300 pieces — I would like to make a correction on your numbered design list —- #38 is Sisiutl Dragon in the book yet the pieces are marked #38 Lightning Snake (same critter) — #39 is Thunderbird & #40 is Sea Wolf —– then there are the ones not in the book — I have #44 Man In The Moon & #45 Skookum —- there are also many Little Stick designs as well as several early miscellaneous pieces —— I do not know if you have a buy / sell resource or newsletter, yet I am selling many of the “1st Nations” design pieces & am also looking for some of the same, specifically #5 Grizzly Head, #8 Killer Whale, #14 Raven – 2 winged, #25 Sword Whale, #28 Beaver & #35 Shaman’s Mask — willing to trade 2 for 1 for the right pieces —- thanks & cheers, Gerry
Gerry, thank you for your information. I will add it to the main page, in brackets as alternate names. I don’t have a buy/sell resource or newsletter, but it’s an interesting thought – maybe I’ll look into creating a page for that, where collectors can connect – hmmmm. I’ll check in with my web designer about this. It may take a little time, but keep checking back.
Can you give us a value of the Bear mother being abdueted by grizzly bears west loast indian design #6 H Thank you
Thomas, your Lambert Potteries Ltd. plate has a rather unique design. It certainly has value to Lambert Potteries and Canadian pottery collectors. I do not do online evaluations, and suggest online marketplaces are the best resource for values at any given time. To evaluate current dollar values, do an internet search for Lambert Potteries Ltd.
Thomas, would it be possible for you to send me a pic of that #6 plate ? Also, is it a 9″ or 11″ ? send to firstname.lastname@example.org —- thanks, Gerry
This is the other side of the Charles Laughton Theatre mug.
I have some “Little Sticks” mugs, and a “Little Sticks” plate. Elfrieda Lambert also made some mugs for the Charles Laughton Theatre, run by the Chilliwack Players Guild in the 1960’s. The goat image was by Doug Bateson(?).
This if great information! Thank you. I will add a note about this to the main Lambert Potteries page. I will also add the photos to the Lambert Potteries Gallery, if that is OK with you. For additional information purposes, was Doug Bateson a potter at Lambert Potteries? The goat is certainly reminiscent of Lambert pieces, but it is not a Lambert design that I know.
Hello. Can you tell me the value of a plate with Shaman’s mask, west Coast Indian Design?
Bobby, values are very subjective and cannot really be determined without the actual piece in hand. And values change over time. The best indicator of value at any given time would be to conduct a search online for your item, and go with the prices you see for any sold items. This website is for Research purposes only – I do not conduct valuations thru this site for items. Having said that, I would love to see a photo of your piece if you’d care to share it here.
Bobby, Lambert Potteries #35 Shaman’s Mask is a piece I am looking for — I have a lot of Lambert pieces for sale right now & would be willing to do a 2 for 1 trade for the right pieces — what are you looking for ? — thanks & cheers, Gerry
Hello, very informative site, I have 1967 plates called:
Little sticky paternity dance
little sticky fertility dance
little stick hunts belch the bison
Thank you for the information, Loren. One of your plates is not listed on the Lambert Potteries page for list of designs. I will add the info for ‘Little Sticky Fertility Dance’ 1967 to the list. If you’d like to share photos of your plates, I’d be happy to add them to the site.
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I have a blue mountain pottery number 054 caroda just wanted to see if it’s worth anything
Steve, it is difficult to see details of the vase from the attached photo, but your jug looks like a BMP Apollo fat lava vase. Check here for more info on this BMP line of pottery: The CDR: BMP Apollo vases And, yes, the Apollo line is quite collectible as it was produced for a limited time only. Maria.
After my mom passed away, I ended up with this vase “Killer whale #22” written on the bottom of it and was wondering if it is valuable? She never mentioned where she got it from and she had never been to BC (we lived in Ontario at the time). I now live in Revelstoke, BC and when unpacking just noticed what it said on the bottom. I never paid attention to that before. Thank you
Lambert Pottery pieces are one of the more valuable Canadian pottery collectibles. To get an idea of current prices, conduct an online search. Value, of course, is relative – it comes down to what someone will pay at any given time. Good luck in your search. Maria.
Hello i have several pieces of Lambert Pottery .. I am also wondering about value…I would be willing to sell them as although I love them I collect so many other things I need to thin out my stuff. Any information would be appreciated.
Hi Janet. I’m afraid I do not do valuations on this site. The best way to find out what items are selling for is to look online. You will then have an idea of what you could ask – keep in mind shipping costs if you buyer is not local. I’m happy to post your comment – maybe someone reading this will contact you. Maria
Thank you Maria . I’ve searched online and your site is the only information I’ve found . I truly appreciate your help .
You are very welcome, Janet. I’m hoping to have more information up soon on other Canadian potteries, so keep coming back.
my name is Joyce VandeGriend and my mother who passed away, Trude VandeGriend was one of David’s handpainters, I have a collection of plates, mugs and her friend, Barbara Baanders who became her own Circle Craft Potter and did swimmingly! is still living in Richmond.
i would be happy to document the pieces (some ashtrays as well and a set of tiles that fit like a puzzle of a dogfish).
it has been a delight to find you and i hope we can meet as i have just moved back to Vancouver.
Joyce, how interesting to hear from you! I would love the details of your mother’s work with David, such as when she worked with him, any details of her work life, etc. Thank you for the offer to document your pieces. It would be great to have the information. If you could provide pictures of the front and back of the items, I will create a gallery for your Lambert Potteries pieces. This is excellent! I had no idea David produced ashtrays and puzzle tiles. This is great info to add to the site. If I ever make it our to Vancouver, I may take you up on your offer to meet. Thanks for getting in touch. Maria
What mugs do you have? Are you looking to sell any of them? I’m looking for a bigger mug, a Stein, with a bird on it, preferably an Eagle, as I’m trying to replace a special one that broke.
Hi Melissa. I do not personally have any mugs for sale. Keep checking back – people will post here if they have some for sale. Maria
Hello my name is Rhonda. I have 5 plates done by lambert potteries.
I have plate number 2 .. 3 .. 11 .. 18 and 21.
I have had them for a long time but no nothing about them. I do not know if they are worth anything. I was wondering if you could help me. I realize you can’t give a exact amount without seeing them. I believe myself they are in very good condition. I however again just wish too know how much they are if they were in the condition they need to be. I have no email so if you could post your thoughts on here I would be grateful
Hi Rhonda. Your plates are definitely worth something! I don’t believe one pattern or number is more collectible than another, so values will be about the same for all of them. Values for plates range from about $25.00-$65 a piece, if not more, and whether you get that amount for them is really based on the condition of the plates and what the collector is willing to pay for them. You have the start of a nice collection of Lambert Potteries pieces yourself!
I found a “QLHIYO THE ANCIENT SEALION” bowl at a garage sale. The bottom has DAVID LAMBERT VAN 1967 B.C. CANADA. Is this a valuable piece?
Jason, value is relative. Lambert Potteries Ltd. is one of the more sought after British Columbia and Canadian potteries. David Lambert’s West Coast native style is popular with Canadian pottery collectors and with collectors of West Coast style, in general. Condition is everything, though. If your bowl is in near mint to mint condition – that is with no chips, no cracks, no crazing, no pinholes, no light glaze spots or wear, no damage of any kind – then your piece has the potential to increase in value as David Lambert, the artist, and Lambert Potteries Ltd., the pottery, become more well known. I do not do evaluations – this is a research site only. To that purpose, I would love to add a picture of your piece and the bottom mark to my site for other collectors – contact me if you are willing. You’ve a great find there. Maria.
Where can I send pictures to.
Hi Jason. Send the photos to email@example.com and I will add them to your comment. Maria
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I found an image of one of Lambert’s plates on pinterest and have trying to find out more information about the artwork. Its very similar the mascot of a Boy Scout camp I went to when I was younger. I’ve looked through The Story of West Coast Designs pamphlet but have been struggling to connect the design to one of the myths. I was hoping somebody could help me make the connection. Thanks,
Happy to share photos, the only ones I have right now are of the Lambert plate beside another piece of shaman art. Where should I send?
Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to seeing the piece.
I have 1 piece of Lambert pottery which I would be willing to sell; located in Ottawa if interested
I would be happy to take a look at it. Would you mind sending me photos? I would need to see a closeup of the image, a photo of any condition problems and I would like to see the back with the marks. If I personally do not want to purchase it, I can certainly post it here for you in case someone else is interested.
Baiba Grube AND Maria Haubrich I HAVE ONE ARTISAN HERTA PLATE 11″ HAIDA COAST C 1952-65 THUNDERBIRD TALONS ON WHALE .VANCOUVER MUSEUM OF ART ( http://canadapottery.ca/canadian-pottery-manufacturers/bc-ceramics-herta/ ) I CAN B REACHED BEST TXT OR PHONE 289-698-1117 HAMILTON ON .VERY REASONABLE PRICE …CLEARING OUT
Hi Robert. I believe Baiba Grube is looking for Lambert Potteries pieces and not Herta. Let me know if you have Lambert Pottery and I will pass your message along. Maria.
I have a number of pieces of Lambert pottery, bought in 1962, most of them never used. I’ve had them in storage in Toronto for the last 50 years, but will be bringing them to Victoria when I move here next year.
If you would be interested in seeing them, I’d be happy to show them to you (or email you photos) once I’m settled in BC, which should be spring of 2016.
I would certainly be interested in seeing your Lambert Potteries items. It would most likely have to be photos by email as I live in Central Alberta. When you are settled, please let me know. And, if it is alright with you, I’d love to post any photos you’d like to share on my website.
Thanks so much for contacting me. Please keep in touch,
My father met David Lambert when he started his pottery and we have some pieces still in the family. If you would like to share photos of your collection I would be interested.
Do you have any mugs? I’m looking to replace my dad’s beautiful Eagle mug which was broken.
Sorry, I have no mugs–only plates of various sizes.
Have you moved to Victoria yet? I live in Vancouver and am very interested to see these pieces.
My move to Victoria is scheduled for the spring of 2016. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but the builder hasn’t given me a firm date.
I am wondering if you have any Lambert Pottery Ltd pieces for sale or if you know where some might be purchased?
Thank you for your inquiry. I do not actually have any Lambert Potteries pieces for sale. Lambert Potteries Ltd pieces do come up for sale online from time to time, so just keep searching and watching for them.
At the moment and for the next 12 days, eBay has a listing for a Lambert Potteries Ltd Raven Head dish. It ships from Ottawa, Canada. I do not endorse this seller or product, and my only intention is to make you aware of a piece currently for sale. Enter this phrase into http://www.ebay.ca – Vintage LAMBERT POTTERY dish RAVEN HEAD Haida Northwest Coast Vancouver B.C. [http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Vintage-LAMBERT-POTTERY-dish-RAVEN-HEAD-Haida-Northwest-Coast-Vancouver-B-C-/281727040255?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item41983d7aff] If you do not currently have an eBay account, you will need to create one in order to purchase the item.
I hope this helps,
I have a set of 6 David Lambert coffee mugs from 1963 with little stick- wedding dance, brewing dance, joys of life, family, fertility dance and hunts belch the bison. I was hoping you could tell me something about them- they were my mothers. Thank you so much
Check out my page on Lambert Pottery here: Canada Pottery-Lambert Potteries
Click on the link on the bottom of the Lambert Potteries page for this info: ‘The Story of West Coast Designs’ by David Lambert
There is also a list of resources on Lambert Potteries on this page of my website: Canada Pottery Research
I think you have a great set of British Columbia art and Canadian pottery mugs. I hope you can keep them in your family – they will only ever go up in value, but if you wish to sell them, you should have no trouble doing so.